27 February 2010

Dear Friends,

Greetings from St. Peter Parish, Nkololo, on a dark rainy day. We had a dry spell that damaged crops but now the rains are back and some crops will be saved while others will have to be replanted. My garden still looks good as we have been able to water our vegetables and flowers. I keep planting and transplanting several days a week so that we always have something available for the table. I am grateful that we don’t have winter or I would find it difficult to have a balanced diet.

February has had it ups and downs. It started off on 3 February with the funeral of Fr. Paulo Doto who died after a long illness. The funeral Mass and burial took place at Ngokolo Cathedral in Shinyanga. About 2000 people filled the cathedral and nearly every priest in the diocese was present, plus a few representatives from neighboring dioceses. We left with a Land Cruiser full of people at about 6 a.m. and got back before 8 p.m. at night. I was grateful that Barnabasi was along to do most of the driving. Only 20 miles near Shinyanga is blacktop so it is a long 115-mile trip one way.

The next day, Thursday, was not a happy day. At about noon under a hot sun I had the burial of Maria Lushinge, one of our elderly ladies who was a regular at morning Mass. She died two days earlier when she fell going down the path to her house. It seems that the few family members couldn’t agree on burial matters and delayed having a box/coffin made. Consequently, when they finally got the coffin, two days had passed. But then it was not big enough for the swollen corpse and there was no way they could get the wooden cover on. I shortened the burial ceremony that was held at her home for reasons that you can imagine.

Having survived that burial I came back to the church where we had a church burial for our neighbor, Matayo, who had been sick for a long time. He had AIDS but was not well enough to take the anti-retroviral drugs that are quite potent. If only he had agreed to be tested earlier he would have been able to receive treatment. We do testing for AIDS here and the local government dispensary has a new building that includes a couple of rooms for counseling and testing. I have workers, choir members and friends living with the virus. They are doing well because they were willing to be tested and receive monthly supplies of medicine.

We are still building at a rather fast pace. Our staff house is up to the windows and we have poured the lintel below the window line. We are putting in windows new to this area, a type of tinted sliding windows with aluminum frames that are now being used in many houses and offices. They were used in big cities some years ago but had not reached this area. They will not let in as much air as louver windows but are a better choice for simplicity; also, louver glass and frames are no longer readily available.

Today we finished pouring the concrete base for the tile floor that we will put in our large medical laboratory. The building is 76-feet long with a 93-foot veranda that extends to the old laboratory. It will eventually be all one building. The lab will be the heart of our Health Center that we expect to some day be a hospital. We have saved many lives with our dispensary and wards and expect to save many more lives in the future when our dream of a hospital comes true. Right now it is in the dream stage as we do not have funds to complete what we have started. Consequently, I again ask if you happen to know anyone or any organization that is interested in saving lives. We are on the front line and see the daily needs. Please let me know if there is any help on the horizon. We continue to say the Divine Mercy prayer “Jesus I trust in you”.

In the past two weeks we have saved 42 lives of people who came to us with severe diarrhea and vomiting. Stefano made a special trip to Mwanza to get a carload of IV solutions, mostly Ringers IV. He got to his home in Old Maswa late and planned to bring the medicines the next morning. We had to go get it at midnight as sick people came in at night and we had run out of IV drip.

My email address does work, pefagan@gmail.com Please give it a try.

Love and prayers to all,

Fr. Paul

#laboratory

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